We’re taught from the time we’re very young about the importance of love and romance. So many of us are raised to think of it as our purpose in life and the one path toward true happiness. Like a dog chasing a car, we rarely stop to think about what we’ll do once we catch it. What good is finding love if we don’t know how to keep it? For that matter, what good is being in a relationship, if we haven’t taken the time to know what we want out of one?

In today’s post, we’ll talk a little bit about why it’s important to tune into your own wants and needs in a relationship.

Why Does It Matter?

Time is precious, and the first and most important thing tuning into what you want out of a relationship will do for you is to keep you from wasting time on the wrong people. Don’t spend weeks, months, or even years with the wrong person. Knowing what you want from a relationship will help you know when to pull the plug early on something that isn’t working.

So much of the time, we’re so caught up in the importance of being in a relationship that we don’t think about what we’re giving up in the process. When we let our fear of being alone run our search for love, we end up sacrificing ourselves in the process. Spending a little time on self-exploration will help you identify your boundaries and prioritize what you’re looking for in life.

Consider the following questions:

  • What good is it being with someone if you can’t be your authentic self?
  • Do you want to get married even if it ends up leaving you feeling lonely?
  • What interests, hobbies, and friendships do you want to make sure you hang onto?

The Importance of Being Yourself

So many of us sacrifice ourselves in order to make a relationship work and end up feeling resentful and unsatisfied as a result. Often people, even in otherwise healthy relationships, don’t feel secure or loved. Sometimes, they haven’t been honest about their needs and desires. The net result is that they feel unfulfilled and unloved because they haven’t been true to themselves. Deep down, they know their partner is in love with a rose-colored version of them—not the real deal.

Getting What You Want

The art of getting what you want out of a relationship is also the art of getting to know yourself. It’s the process of self-reflection—understanding your sexual and romantic needs. How often do you need affection? What sort of social life do you crave? Are you looking for someone to watch Netflix with or someone to find new spots to explore and grab dinner with?

The answer to these questions isn’t always cut and dry and can change over time. The important thing is to take time to ask yourself what you want. That way, you can communicate those needs and desire clearly. If you can’t do that, you may feel upset or trapped. Communication is key—not just with your partner, but with yourself.

1. Know What Matters

Everyone’s got different things they’re looking for—it’s important to know your deal breakers. Not every interest or hobby has to be shared with your partner. What are the compromises you’re willing to make? What lines are deal breakers? As with knowing what you want, be prepared to revisit these occasionally.

2. Trust Your Gut

It might be time to re-evaluate if you’re feeling uncomfortable or unsafe in a relationship. Find a safe place or person to talk with who can help you explore those feelings. When you’ve got something you feel uncertain about, don’t pretend everything’s okay.

3. Getting Support

You don’t need to be in a relationship or not to start figuring out what you want out of one. If you’re having trouble knowing with this process, support is available. Consider contacting a qualified therapist or counselor who can give you an objective, 3rd party perspective on things.